Umpire Joe West’s coronavirus delusions were on full display in his interview with Ken Rosenthal the other day. That’s when he said “I don’t believe in my heart that all these deaths have been from the coronavirus” and a bunch of other nonsense.
If you think that was something, get a load of what he told Bob Nightengale of USA Today, who asked West about the 130,000 people who have died of COVID-19 and why he’s not worried about his own health:
“Those statistics aren’t accurate, I don’t care who’s counting them,’’ West said from his Florida home. “When country music [singer] Joe Diffie died, they said he died of the coronavirus. He had Stage 4 lung cancer. The coronavirus may have accelerated his death, but let’s be realistic.”
“Our system is so messed up they have emptied hospitals because there’s no elective surgery. The government has been giving these hospitals extra money if someone dies of the coronavirus. So everybody that dies is because of coronavirus. I don’t care if you get hit by a car, it’s coronavirus.’’
Joe West’s coronavirus “opinion” is not just ignorance. It’s conspiracy theorist-level misinformation. It’s also, it should be added, misinformation that Nightengale would’ve done well to counter after quoting West, like Rosenthal did in his article the other day.
For example, Nightengale could’ve noted that, rather than aggressively code patient deaths as coronavirus, if anything, West’s home state of Florida has been underreporting coronavirus deaths. And, to say the least, there is no evidence of the insanity that West claims regarding “giving hospitals extra money.”
As for elective surgeries, hospital systems in Florida have been given broad discretion with what to do about them but, in recent days, have halted them because they need the bed space for coronavirus patients. Far from being “emptied out,” hospitals in Florida are filling up with people who are sick from the very disease West is dismissing as a danger.
West is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a good or respected umpire. But it remains the case that his profession is one where showing good judgment is essential. Based on Joe West’s coronavirus views, however, his judgment is even more blinkered than we previously realized.
UPDATE: A thing I did not realize earlier: West’s citation to country singer Joe Diffie is itself a conspiracy theory that has been debunked. So West is peddling conspiracy theories on top of conspiracy theories.